The NYT has the story here:
… Her answer: “A, it won’t, because there are things government doesn’t get to, and B, you’re missing it.”
Mr. Ballmer replied, “No, I’m not.”
That conversation led Mr. Ballmer to pursue what may be one of the most ambitious private projects undertaken to answer a question that has long vexed the public and politicians alike. He sought to “figure out what the government really does with the money,” Mr. Ballmer said. “What really happens?”
On Tuesday, Mr. Ballmer plans to make public a database and a report that he and a small army of economists, professors and other professionals have been assembling as part of a stealth start-up over the last three years called USAFacts. The database is perhaps the first nonpartisan effort to create a fully integrated look at revenue and spending across federal, state and local governments.
Want to know how many police officers are employed in various parts of the country and compare that against crime rates? Want to know how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets and the cost to collect? Want to know what percentage of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government spends on it? That’s in there. You can slice the numbers in all sorts of ways.
… “How many people work for government in the United States?” he asked, with the excitement of a child showing off a new toy, before displaying the answer. “Almost 24 million. Would you have guessed that?”
“Then people say, ‘Those damn bureaucrats!’” Mr. Ballmer exclaimed, channeling the criticism that government is bloated and filled with waste, fraud and abuse. “Well, let’s look at that. People who work in schools, higher ed, public institutions of education — they are government employees.” And they represent almost half of the 24 million, his data shows.
“And you say, O.K., what are the other big blocks?” Mr. Ballmer continued. “Well, active-duty military, war fighters. Government hospitals. Really? I didn’t know that.”
Suddenly, he explained, the faceless bureaucrats who are often pilloried as symbols of government waste suddenly start to look like the people in our neighborhood whom we’re very glad to have.
“Now people might not think they’re government employees, but your tax dollars are helping somehow to pay 24 million people — and most of these people you like,” Mr. Ballmer said. …
That’s just a snippet. It’s a very interesting project, not that I’ve got a PhD in public economics.